Natural Beauty & Skincare, Yoga

Cruelty Free Face Mask for Better Skin

April 11, 2019 • By

Cruelty free skincare | Northern Yogi

 

Beautiful skin is something that most of us aspire to achieve, yet it can mean so many different things to different people, as we all have our own ideas of beauty. To me ‘beautiful skin’ means hydrated, glowing and (if my hormones will allow) blemish free. I love skincare, but there are two my skincare products must be:

  1. Cruelty free.
  2. As natural as possible.

I was recently introduced to a brand that ticked both these boxes, Bella Forever. They’ve created a cruelty free skincare range of face masks that are 100% natural.

You can read more about the natural clay they use here. (CLICK)

Vegan Skincare Blog | Northern Yogi

I’ve recently started using the Mint Cooler Deep Cleansing face mask. The mask aims to remove any impurities from the skin, it’s what clay does best, and absorb any excess oil. It contains sage essential oil which calms and refreshes. It also smells incredible! The mask also came with a cute little application kit containing a mixing bowl, stir stick, a super soft application brush and 3 measuring spoons. I’d recommend adding the kit as it made applying the mask so much easier. Any clay masks I’ve used in the past have been challenging to get the correct consistency and application, this kit definitely helped.

Vegan Beauty Products | Northern Yogi

The mask brushes on really smoothly and feels cool to the touch. It dried well but didn’t have that horrible, can’t move your face, tight feeling. I was able to talk and drink without the mask cracking off. I left it the recommended 15 minutes before washing off with a face cloth. It came away really easily and, again, my skin didn’t feel tight or in desperate need of moisturiser.

I have a problem area, prone to blemishes on my cheek. It’s a recent addition to my life and I’m not sure what causes it, yet. So a day or so after using the mask the toxins from this area of my face started to surface. Clay draws out toxins don’t forget! Don’t let this put you off, what is deep down beneath the surface of your skin will eventually let itself be known. Best to deep cleanse often, with non-toxic products, to keep breakouts down to a minimum.

I like this mask. I like this company. The skincare world is in need of good quality, non-toxic, natural and cruelty free ways of maintaining great skin and Bella Forever definitely delivered the goods.

 

Products in the blog were gifted, all opinions are my own.

 

 


Yoga, Yoga & Meditation

How to Block Any External Distractions In Yoga

March 17, 2019 • By

If our yoga practice was in a film it would be you, alone in a hilltop log studio, overlooking a picturesque rain-forest. Birds and crickets the only sounds you can hear, the temperature is perfect and the surroundings are breathtaking. Your body moves effortlessly to the sounds of nature and your mind transcends the mortal, sending you into a deep medative state.

 

Snap back to reality, Eminem style.

You’re at home. You’ve got a ‘to-do’ list as long as your arm, a full time job, children, partner and a dog. On top of the struggle juggle you’re trying to better your health and bring a sense of calm into your life by doing yoga. You roll out your yoga mat whenever and wherever you can and this often this means there will be a little, or a lot, of distractions. Interesting, however, this can really enhance your yoga life.

How?

When we practice yoga our aim is to bring our mind, body and breath into unison. To do this you must learn to block out any external distractions. It’s why we have a Drishti (focused gaze) and why we tune in to our Ujjayi breath. Now imagine the conditions of your daily yoga practice are consistently perfect. Would you tune is to yourself as much?

 

Practitioners that occasionally have to practice when the conditions aren’t ideal will built up a stronger resilience to external distractions. This means they have a stronger ability to block out anything that might distract them from their focus in life, be that a career challenge or relationship issue. Anything that throw you off course from achieving your desired goal.

So the next time the neighbours upstairs are banging around during your yoga practice think, ‘ah, this serves me’. Then breath a big, loud breath and continue to focus on your practice. The more often you do this the stronger your resilience will become.

And remember, it’s called a practice for a reason! We are all practising strength, practising focus, practising determination.

All is coming.

 


Wellness & Lifestyle, Yoga

Staying Healthy Through the Festive Period

December 14, 2018 • By

Yoga Wellness | Northern Yogi

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And, let’s face it, it’s the time of year where all our willpower goes out of the window. It’s definitely a time for hibernation, sitting on the sofa, watching Christmas films and stuffing your face with chocolate. I love to do this as much as the next girl, believe me! But this year I’m making a conscious effort to continue to focus on feeling good.

For me feeling good means having lots of energy, feeling well rested, feeling upbeat and motivated. To ensure this happens over the Christmas period I’ll make sure I tick off these feel good tips.

  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. Yep, I’ve said it! Over the Christmas period it’s more likely your alcohol intake will increase. A bucksfizz (Mimosa for my American readers) at breakfast, a red wine over dinner, vegan Bailey at deserts. It’s all too tempting, but then the next day when you feel groggy and sick and your head hurts you decide to do it all over again on boxing day, and again the day after that, let’s not get started on New Years Eve! By January 1st you are probably 40% proof and ready for a detox. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, drinking is fun but it’s important to know your limits. You don’t have a different liver just because it’s Christmas and you need to give your body a chance to rest and recover. It you are wanting to hold on to your top notch health over Christmas then swap a few of your alcoholic beverages for water or non-alcoholic cocktails.
  • Get outside and go for a stroll. Being outdoors, in the fresh air, surrounded by nature is not only good for your cardiovascular health, it makes you feel better emotionally and mentally. We have a tendency to become that little bit lazier over the festive period, and rightly so. You’ve worked hard all year and this is the perfect time to take a good, long rest. But, just 30 minutes outside each day can normalise your sleep schedule, expose you to much needed vitamin D, unplug you from your electronic devices, giving you time to mentally recharge. It lowers your cortisol levels and your blood pressure and will help you shift that 3rd mince pie. Beside all of these amazing benefits being outdoors is fun!
  • Eat right! You’re probably thinking there is absolutely no way you’re going to watch what you eat over the Christmas period. But, hear me out, I don’t mean you have to refrain from eating, I’m saying eat right! Less meat (or no meat if you can), more veggies, dates, fruit, nuts, cover everything in dark chocolate and feast until your heart is content. Christmas doesn’t mean your body no longer needed vitamins. You’ll be more likely to avoid that January cold too!

Get Outside | Wellness Blog | Northern Yogi

Take time over the festive period to spend quality time with the people you love, switch your phone off and give them your undivided attention. Fill up on feel good foods, don’t overdo it on the works do and make sure you get some fresh air every day.

Have a wonderful Christmas, continue to practice yoga and mediate daily. I’ll see you in the New Year.


Wellness & Lifestyle, Yoga

Lisbon

November 20, 2018 • By

Yoga & Meditation Lisbon

For a very long time now Lisbon has been in my top ten must see places to visit and last month I was lucky enough to take my first trip. We spent 5 day, 4 nights exploring all the city has to offer. I’m already planning my next trip!

When to Go:

Apparently the best time of the year to visit Lisbon is either early Spring or late Autumn as the heat and prices are both very high June – September. We opted for autumn and were not disappointed with the weather. In the day it reached 31 degrees but at nighttime fell to a lovely 17 degrees. Although 31 degrees is still very hot to be wandering around the city it’s really easy to stay in the shade. Lisbon is famous for it’s winding streets and aside from creating a beautiful landscape they also provide much needed shade.

Yoga in Lisbon

Where to Stay:

We stayed at Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa because I wanted somewhere with a pool so we could have one afternoon of lazing around. It’s a beautiful hotel with the most amazing roof bar. Head up there around sunset for the most incredible views of the city and a great cocktail! 

Where to Stay Lisbon

What to Eat:

Eating Vegan is Lisbon was actually really easy. You’ll find with most major cities nowadays there are always vegan cafes and vegan options on the menu. I downloaded Happy Cow, the app that helps vegans find eateries around the globe, I was never more than a few KM aware from somewhere I could eat. A few notable places:

  • Zenith – The ideal breakfast or lunch place for both meat eaters and vegans. They have pancakes, toasts, acai bowls, smoothies and vegan options of most things.
  • Foodprintz – By far one of the best eateries I visited whilst in Lisbon. It’s 100% vegan and hosts yoga classes too. I have to avocado on rye with a green warrior juice and cappuccino.  This place has a lovely, peaceful atmosphere, friendly staff and great food.

Foodprintz Vegan Cafe Lisbon

Juice Cafe Lisbon

Eat Vegan in Lisbon

What to Do:

One of my favourite places was the Botanical Gardens which was like visiting a tropical oasis in the middle of a busy city. The air felt cleaner, there was space to move and space to be still, to breathe, to meditate to relax. It was tranquil and contained the most amazing collection of tropical plants, most I had never seen before. A tropical oasis of clam that is definitely worth the trip.

Surrounding the botanical gardens are cute and kooky shops selling everything from handmade stationary to bags, shoes, jewellery and shampoo. Across the road there is a small tree lined park, in which there is a cafe where you can sit and watch the world go by whilst eating chip butties. Absolute perfection!

Street Yoga Lisbon

If visiting Lisbon for the first time you must take a trip on the funicular that takes you to the top of one of Lisbon’s many hilltops, on which you will find lots of market stalls, sangria and live bands for dancing the night away.

We also took a trip on the oldest tram in the city (number 24) which takes you up to the castle via the little winding streets of Lisbon, it’s classic and you get to see the real Lisbon, complete with washing lines across the roads!

Lisbon really is a wonderful city, it has the perfect balance of ambitious city and laid back cool. It’s charming yet modern. It caters to vegans and there is always something to do or see, even if that means just sitting with a coffee and watching the day pass you by.


Wellness & Lifestyle

World Mental Health Day 2018

October 10, 2018 • By

World Mental Health Day

If you’ve taken your daily scroll through social media today you will have realised it is World Mental Health Day. A day designed to raise awareness of all mental health issues.

For my contribution to raising awareness and supporting those that I am able to reach I wanted to share some things that help me become more mindful in my own mental health journey.

Firstly, let’s talk about the term ‘mental health’. What does this term mean to you? What do you think of when you hear it? Depression? Sad songs? Psychiatric wards? Pills? Tears? Loneliness?

It can mean a lot of different things to each individual. Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

‘A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’

Which in layman’s terms means your mental health can either be good, or bad. It also means it is ever changing, you will not always feel what you are feeling now. However, when you have a mental health issue your clever mind makes you believe you will feel this way forever. Clever little bastard, isn’t it.

The term ‘mental health issues’ covers so many different illnesses, to name but a few:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • OCD
  • Eating disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress
  • Psychosis
  • Bipolar Disorder

World Mental Health Day 2018

As you can tell this is a broad spectrum of conditions. I’m sure you’re aware this blog is not a medical blog and I am not medically trained. I have, however, suffered from anxiety issues in my past and I am aware that depression and anxiety is on the rise. I cannot talk about psychosis, PTSD, Eating disorders or OCD, but I can talk on depression and anxiety issues, from experience and from my yoga training. However if you or someone you know if experience mental health problems talk to your GP.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of anxiety or panic I want you to pause right here and take one deep inhalation via your nose. Really slowly. And when your lungs are full breathe in a little more (there is always more space!). Now slowly purse your lips are allow the breath to exit the body via the mouth.

Do this as many times as you need and at any point in your day. It brings you into the present moment. Anxiety and panic only exist in past or future tense, never present.

World Mental Health aWARENESS Day

Now let’s share some tips that will help you take control of your mental well-being. Try them all and find what works best for you. Give yourself time, understand this is a working progress and you are getting better each day, it is a journey to wellness.

  • Breathe: Like I just described above, becoming aware of your breath is the best way to bring you into the present moment. It also slows your heart rate, which is no doubt beating super-fast due to the adrenaline your anxious body produces. Inhale for a count or 5, exhale for a count or 5. Download one of these apps to guide you until you feel confident enough to go it alone.

 

  • Get off your phone! Ever noticed when you start to feel a little anxious you reach for your phone? Like a little security blanket that phone will help distract you from all the symptoms you’re currently experiencing but you’ll no doubt end up on Google with Bilateral frontoparietal polymicrogyria (don’t Google that). What I’m saying is if you pick your phone up every time you experience anxiety symptoms then how are you ever going to overcome them? You have to be brave, fearless and sit with them. When you sit with them you learn how to take control over them, and when you take control over them they become weaker. Remember how powerful your mind is. You can either work with it, or against it.

 

  •  Get Outside! Seriously, nature really is the best medicine. Scientific studies have actually shown your blood pressure reduces the more into nature you get. No matter what season it is, rain or shine, it is good for you to head outdoors. Walk, run, climb, sit, anything that gets fresh air into your lungs and daylight onto your skin. I make sure I spend a little time outside each day and get out for a big hike at least once per week.

 

  • Get Creative! You don’t have to be Picasso to pick up a paint brush and you don’t have to be 80 years old to knit. There are hundreds of ways you can bring your mind to one point of focus each day. Mediation works for some and painting works for others. You can knit, cross stitch, bake, write, sing, play music, crosswords, board games, books, photography, anything that takes all your attention. By bringing your mind to one point of focus you strengthen your ability to overcome symptoms of panic. Find something that you love doing, I for example like to paint. I’m terrible at it but I enjoy it so I do it, and no one else see’s so what does it matter! It gets me away from work, my phone, social media, TV and allows me to completely switch off. Before I know it 3 hours have gone by and I’m ready to sleep soundly. It’s bliss.

World Mental Health Awareness

We shouldn’t just be talking about our mental health today, we should talk about it every day. Even when we feel really good tell someone, ‘I did this and it made me feel great!’

People with mental health issues often suffer in silence for a long time, but trust me you don’t have too. No one will judge you for speaking up, if anything it’s a sign of strength. Don’t let that clever bastard mind of yourS make you believe your false reality is real.

When you walk in the rain, you feel the rain but you are not the rain. You are not your mental health issue, it is just a part of you that you can begin to control and overcome, in time, with support.

 

 


Vegan Food & Recipes

Vegan Friendly Eats: The Garden Hale

August 9, 2018 • By

Vegan Food | Northern Yogi

It’s no surprise that eating out as a vegan can sometimes be challenging. Not all restaurants have added vegan options to their menus, yet, so it was refreshing to discover The Garden in Hale, Cheshire. A very instagrammable, super healthy eatery that has more vegan options than most!

We visited on a Sunday afternoon and were lucky enough to snag a table tucked away in the corner. It was a beautifully sunny Manchester day so most people were sitting outside, The Garden has a cute decked area out back and seating out front too. Dogs are welcome so we took little Betsy along with us.

The interior is stunning and it’s obvious a lot of love has gone into this place. The specials menu is hand painted by a local artist and everything within is garden themed, think plants, flowers, light and freshness.

The Garden Hale | Northern Yogi

Vegan Friendly | Northern Yogi

It took me an awfully long time to decide what to eat because there are just so many options for vegans. I eventually opted for the vegan cashew rarebit toast, sweet potato wedges and an oat milk cappuccino.

Our food arrived in good time and went down a storm with both myself and Betsy, who loves sweet potato wedges!

Health Shots | Northern Yogi

After lunch we moved to a table outside for another coffee, some pineapple infused water and a liver flush shot (beetroot, grapefruit, aloe vera & milk thistle). The vegan friendly cakes were so tempting but I was just too full to try one.

Vegan Places to eat Manchester

At least it gives me a reason to visit again soon for coffee and cake!

You can check out the amazing seasonal menu here


Wellness & Lifestyle

Mindful Activewear that Saves Lifes

July 24, 2018 • By

Being a yoga teacher means I live in leggings and finding the right pair for that public downward facing dog is often a lot harder than it should be. I’ve spoken a lot over the years about finding the perfect pair of yoga leggings, ones that don’t go see-through when you touch your toes (pass the squat test), ones that don’t ride down in seated postures and ones that aren’t so tight they squish your spleen.

Luckily I was recently introduced to Asuno, a Manchester based brand (yey!) that produce activewear with a difference. You see, not only do they tick all the boxes when it comes to comfort, material, price point and style but they are also contributing to making a difference in the world. At Asuno, each item of clothing is linked to a particular charity, cause and action. Meaning when you make a purchase you can actually help change someones life.

It’s guilt free shopping. It is actually beneficial to shop!

Asuno have recently launched a kick starter campaign and lots of their items are currently discounted, so you can save whilst you actual help save others.

You can find out more about the kick starter campaign here: https://igg.me/at/asuno

More about Asuno here: https://asuno-uk.com/  

Contains gifted products

Wellness & Lifestyle

Ayurveda: How to Live A Healthier Life

July 15, 2018 • By

Tea India | Northern Yogi

 

Today marks day 7 in my 1 week Ayurveda cleanse. I say ‘cleanse’ like this is some kind of fad, when in actuality I was ready to overall my health for good.

 

Pre Ayurveda lifestyle.

I was working hard, both mentally and physically. As a yoga teacher you give quite a lot of energy when teaching and as a business owner I find it difficult to switch off, constantly thinking of new ideas, new techniques and sequences, ways to help my students and reach out further to those that need yoga. My mind rarely stops.

Having taken on some new work lately meant my precious sleeping schedule had to change to an early (very early) morning riser, however I failed to go to sleep any earlier in the evening due to my whirling thought process.

Despite my reduced sleep schedule I was still pushing myself in the gym and on the mat, attending Jivamukti classes and power yoga class, whilst keeping my home practice Ashtanga yoga based. Eventually this way of living left me burnt out, something needed to change.

 Ayurveda | Northern Yogi

Finding Ayurveda

It all began when I found Tea India and Geeta Vara. Geeta is an Ayurveda practitioner and also an ambassador for Tea India, who have recently launched a new range of Ayurveda inspired teas:

  1. Peace & Calm: Fennel, chamomile and peppermint
  2. Harmony & Balance: Tulsi, fennel, cinnamon and ginger
  3. Vitality & Energy: Ginger, cinnamon, tulsi and turmeric

Geeta is also the author of Ayurveda: A Practical Guide to Optimal Health, Healing and Vitality. The three things that I so desperately needed in my life.

Together they have created a questionnaire to help those that want to discover more about Ayurveda, themselves and their personal dosha.

Take the test

Once you have found which dosha you are, I am pitta, you can begin to create a lifestyle that brings you back into alignment with how you should feel, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Ayurveda isn’t just about food. To be correctly balanced it takes into account:

  • Stress levels
  • Environment
  • Thought process
  • Mental health
  • Seasons
  • Time of day
  • Sleep pattern.

To become aligned you must begin to change that what is not healthy. So if you sleep too little, like I was doing, Ayurveda gives you permission to lie in, sleep more and go to bed earlier. If you work out with high intensity, like I was doing, Ayurveda gives you permission to slow down, be gentler, take more rest days and not push yourself too hard.

Following an Ayurveda practice is all about making sure your mind, body and spirit are healthy and in tune with your natural dosha. In doing so your overall health will be revamps, giving you more energy, a slimmer waistline, a peaceful night’s sleep and a healthy mind.

Vata Dosha | Ayurveda | Northern Yogi

 

Pita Dosha | Ayurveda | Northern Yogi

 

Kapha Dosha | Ayurveda | Northern Yogi

 

The Tea India teas really helped me find my way when I started fine tuning my doshas. I made sure I started each day with the Vitality & Energy, a blend of ginger, cinnamon, tulsi and turmeric. I found it really woke me up in the mornings, it’s very invigorating and allowed me to start my day with a spring in my step. Some days I start teaching at 7am so I’d fill my reusable mug with Vitality & Energy and by the time I got to class I’d be raring to go.

Finding routine has been really important for me lately, as Ayurveda suggests a structured daily pattern is best for my dosha. This is what is working for me lately:

 

6am: Wake up, drink Vitality & Energy

6:15am: Cleanse

6:30am: Mediation

6:45am: YOGA

9am: Breakfast, usually overnight oats, flaxseeds, almonds, cinnamon and almond butter.

1pm: Big lunch, aiming to make lunch my largest meal of the day as this is when pitta is strongest. Meaning my digestion is stronger to process and burn through food.

3pm: Workout time. Either a nourishing yoga flow or a long hike

4pm: Tea India Balance & Harmony tea with date balls or nuts or fruit.

7pm: Dinner time, something lighter than lunch that will allow me to begin my evening routine.

9pm: Mediation (yes, again!) and reading my Ayurveda book and drinking Tea India Peace & Calm

10pm: Lights out. Sleep time!

 

As long as my day is roughly structured like this I’ve found myself with lots more energy. Changing my sleep schedule was a challenge at first but now switching my laptop and phone off before 9pm is normal, allowing me to wind down properly and sleep easier.

This way of living is definitely something I want to continue. To be the best yoga teacher I can be and give my students the kind of teaching they truly deserve I need to ensure I am always feeling fit, happy and healthy.

 

If you want to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle then I definitely recommend picking up a copy of Geeta’s book (here) and grab yourself the latest range of Tea India Ayurveda range.


Yoga & Meditation

Trying Something Different: Cork Space Yoga Mat Review

June 18, 2018 • By

Corkspace Yoga Mat

Finding the right yoga mat can be such a challenge for both new and existing yoga practitioners. The market is saturated with every style of mat imaginable; eco, patterned, round, travel, cushioned, hot yoga mats, cold yoga mats, yoga mats that mop your brow after class (I wish!).

So, how do we find the one that’s right for us?

Yoga Mat Review

Once you have been practicing yoga for as long as I have (trying not to age myself but it’s been over ten years), you will have tried every style of yoga mat possible, and you will come to know what you like and what you don’t.

Generally you want something that is durable, can take a lot of sweat, is easy to take from class to class, kind to the planet and, most importantly, is not slippy!

In all the years I’ve been practising I have never had a mat that didn’t need ‘breaking in‘. Meaning many slippy yoga practices before my mat finds its grip.

That is, until now.

Yoga Mat | Northern Yogi

I was recently sent a new style of yoga mat, this time made of cork! I have to admit I was sceptical at first. Was this a marketing gimmick? How can one safely practice yoga on something that keeps wine fresh?

Oh how wrong my sceptical self was. When I unwrapped the packaging and peeled out the beautifully smooth, stylishly branded cork yoga mat (that comes with a carry strap!) I thought ‘hmm I kinda like this’.

Then I stepped on it. I placed my yoga feet on my new yoga mat and I took a big yoga breath. And it felt good. From my head, all the way down to my yoga soles it felt good.

I lifted my arms and exhaled as I placed my hands onto the smooth cork. And they stayed there, exactly where I had placed them. They didn’t slide forwards or backwards.

So I stepped my feet back, gently, just in case.

 

Corkspace Yoga Mat | Northern Yogi

Ardo Mukha Svanasana. I’m in downward facing dog and my hands are still in that same position. This is definitely the time when the feet begin to slide. It’s a brand new yoga mat, this is always when the feet begin to slide.

So I waited.

And they didn’t move.

So I took a breath. Then another. Then three more.

Five big breaths is downward facing dog with my hands and feet firmly gripped into this cork yoga mat. Still.

 

Yoga Practice | Northern Yogi

I got through a full practice on the Cork Space yoga mat with no slips and no slides. I felt rooted in my standing sequence and supported in my seated sequence. It was beautiful, both the practice and the yoga mat.

Yoga Blog Manchester | Northern Yogi

The Cork Space yoga mat is eco friendly and made from sustainable cork and naturally sourced rubber. It’s not just good for you but for the planet too!

You can find out more about this wonderful mat here: Cork Yoga Mat UK

Save yourself 10% off this amazing yoga mat here or add northernyogi at checkout.